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Monday, April 23, 2012

De-Cluttering Me

Over the past couple of weeks I cleaned out many areas of my home, closets, books shelves, drawers, cabinets, and cupboards.  Clutter has a funny way of creeping up on you, as things come in to the house we find somewhere to keep them, but eventually enough is enough, we have too many things to keep and to be honest a number of things we simply don't use and never will use so for all intent and purpose we are simply storing.  De-cluttering our living environment is freeing and makes daily life easier, in thinking about this I realized that I would probably benefit by de-cluttering me!

What do I mean by de-cluttering me? I want to be conscientious about the things I put into my mind and so I do a number of things, some I have done for a long time, others I am cultivating, but all in all I want my focus to be on God, and to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God.  

Here are some of the things I do:

**News - I have reduced the amount of news/media I consume daily and am more selective in what I consume.  There were many news websites I visited daily, but as time went by I began to feel that they were not so much news sites as sites that always looked for the stories that had the most drama and sex appeal to them, or sites that only reported "human interest" stories telling of the most depraved things.  I am not being an ostrich, sticking my head in the sand and pretending evil does not exist in the world, far from it.  I am just weary of the constant bombardment of depraved human behavior, I prefer to read articles that are edifying. So I have removed many news sites from my "favorites link list".  I have not missed any of the news sites I used to visit.

**Internet - I spend a lot less time online than I used to, and I am picky about what I view, and picky about the blogs visit.  I used to visit many blogs, but some I felt really pushed an agenda that was Christian but very anti-Catholic I  began to wonder why I kept returning to read things that were upsetting and sometimes untrue. It seems in "internet land" people are much more willing to "state their mind" as they have some level of anonymity than they would do if they were to share with you face to face. I limit my time online and again visit sites that are edifying.

**TV/Movies - For a number of years I did not watch  TV, after a while I did take time to watch movies that I borrowed from the library, I am pretty picky about what I watch and I prefer older movies that do not have violence, bad language, explicit scenes, and characters who lack moral fortitude.  I do watch some TV, but not much, and I simply cannot stand to watch any news programming on TV - it is all arguing about opinion and I find it to be a total waste of time.

**Reading - I used to read tons and tons of fiction, I now prefer non-fiction, I like to read books about people with strong faith, ex. the Saints, (I am currently reading St. Faustina's Diary), people who have faced adversity, auto-biographies and biographies. Again I want to read books that are edifying.

**Radio - I listen to our local Catholic station, Redeemer Radio - what a blessing this station is - again it is edifying.

**Conversation - I try to keep conversation with others positive, avoid gossip (this is so hard at times), and share my faith when appropriate. 

**Attitude - I always try to look for the silver lining in all of the storm clouds of life - and you know what? there always, always is a silver lining :)  Adversity makes us stronger, builds our faith, brings us closer to others, teaches us, humbles us, and ultimately makes us a better person.

**Prayer - I continue to cultivate this area of my life, it takes discipline and patience, but incorporating time for daily prayer is possible and gets easier the more you do it.  I am now able to pray four offices of the The Divine Office most days, , , along with the Rosary, and other prayers and scripture reading.  Initially I thought I would never have time to do this, but it has become a habit and fits well into most of my days.  I find that the psalms have a way of sinking into my mind without notice and phrases suddenly come to mind seemingly out of the blue.  The Psalms are so comforting, sometimes they are filled with praise and thanksgiving, other times they are filled with sorrow, they cover the full spectrum of our human emotion and they are timeless in speaking to our human condition.

**Daily Life - My husband and I live a simple life, we are not looking for the latest gadgets/gizmos and technology because they simply don't appeal to us, why we don't even own a coffee maker we simply use a camping stove top percolator and we haven't used our clothes dryer in years :)
 What do we like to do, grow and preserve our own food, my husband makes wine, we keep chickens, on and off we raise a steer. We like to stay home, we love our kids and grand kids and our favorite activity is to have everyone over for a shared meal and time together - we do this a lot.  We attend Mass. We don't go to movies, we don't belong to clubs, we are not over-scheduled - we have time to live in the moment, and we have no debt as we choose to live within our means. Our life has not always been like this, it has been a process that evolved over the past fifteen years, we simply love where we are in our life at this time and because we have lived a frugal life, a prayerful life, and followed God's will in our life, we are able to enjoy our life in a way that would not have been possible if we had followed the call of the world.

I am truly excited to have begun my journey into the Confraternity of Penitents (CFP), last week I submitted my Inquirer application, it was accepted and I am no longer hovering around at the gate, I have opened the gate and started down the path :) !!  I truly know that the Lord has led me to the CFP and I know that the Rule of 1221 is something that I can live because it compliments the life of simplicity I am already living. If you wish to know more about the CFP you can visit the website,  The CFP will help continue my conversion of self and is a way of life that truly focuses on de-cluttering all aspects of  life to remove all barriers to God! How wonderful is that?

Philippians 4:13 Everything is possible in Him who has strengthened me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Less is More

Over the past week I have had a thorough sorting out of things in my house.  We keep our home tidy, I we don't have a lot of clutter, but every once in a while it is good to go through our possessions and weed out things that we no longer need.  It is liberating to be able to let go of stuff.
I started out with the family room book shelf, I was pretty ruthless, and although I did keep some books I surprised myself at just how many I was really ready to part with. I managed to find new homes for all but about eight of the books, I will drop them off at the Goodwill store.
I then read a post over at where I read about the 21 day organizing challenge, I was challenged by Day #12 Spice Cabinet! I don't know about you but my spice cabinet was a bit of a black hole, a nightmare to find anything, and duplicates of all kinds of things. It took me fifteen minutes to sort it out, I combined duplicates, tossed old out dried up clumpy things, and then arranged the pots. I decided to put the least used items in the back and the frequently used items to the front.  I can not tell you what a pleasant experience it is to now open the spice cabinet and easily find what I need - a BIG THANK YOU to Living On Less Money blog.
Well why stop with the spice cabinet, I had one other cabinet of shame in my kitchen, I tossed out many items, an extremely ancient jar of Ovaltine, it was no longer powder just a solid block of malt powder, ancient herbal teas, and just an odd assortment of stuff. This cabinet is now tidy and useful once again.
Saturday I decided to tidy the basement, I really did not have anything to get rid of, but the floor needed sweeping, things needed to be straightened up, and there were many cobwebs to vacuum.  I did survey my storage shelves and decided that I only needed one vase rather than five, and I weeded through the tablecloths and just kept a few.  Next stop the sewing room - I decided to get rid of ancient yarn, odd pieces of lace, a lot of fabric scraps and a couple of things I have never used including two books, I donated all of the sewing room stuff to a thrift store in town that sells a lot of craft items. I then sorted out my closet, my husband now takes up more room than I do!  I cleaned out a few other things, a drawer in my dresser and the shelf in the hall cupboard.
I am so happy that I sorted out all of this stuff. I do have a full trash can (my only regret) but some stuff was simply not worth donating, and I did take a large load to Goodwill, a small load to another thrift store, and I gave some items away.
I wonder why I kept some things, why for example did I keep oddball wine glasses in the cupboard above the stove, we never used them and they were chipped and/or mismatched, and seriously how many wine glasses does a person need? I wonder too why  I needed so many tablecloths??
Anyway, letting go of things is very freeing, it is pleasant to open a cabinet, drawer, or cupboard and find it is uncluttered and organized.  I also realized as I cleaned stuff out that many items I purchased because they were a deal, turned out to be a waste of money as I never used them.  I really like garage sales, I have decided that this year I will not go to any, because several items I rid myself of this weekend that ended up being a Goodwill donation were things I purchased at garage sales. Think about it, I purchased junk someone else did not want and then realized I didn't want it either, so not only did I pay someone for the item, I then hauled it to the Goodwill for them!! I think that is crazy behavior and I will not do it anymore!!
I think we should all review our possessions at least annually and evaluate why we keep the items we do, and decide is it really worth keeping, then donate what we don't need.  In turn, I think we should really evaluate new purchases, do we really need the item, how have we managed until now without it, if I wait a few weeks will I still have the same intense desire to purchase the said item.  I am not saying never purchase another thing, because some purchases are necessary, but many are not, and many come with buyers remorse.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Great Book Give Away

I have picked through the books on my bookshelf and am ready to part with a number of them. If you would like any of the titles listed below please let me know, hopefully you live locally, NE Indiana, but if you don't and only want one or two I would happily mail the books to a new home :)  You can email your contact information to

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The Best of James Herriot - favorite memories of a country vet
It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet - James Herriot
Family Pictures - Sue Miller
A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
A Map of the World - Jane Hamilton
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (paperback)
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (hardcover - readers digest publication)
A Dickens Christmas Collection -
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L Frank Baum
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
The Parasites - Daphne DuMaurier
Five Acres and Independence - M. G. Kains (non-fiction)
The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs
The Book of Christmas - Philip Holmes
Pictures of Perfection - Reginald Hill
Starter for Ten - David Nicholls
The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1 - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol 2 - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Selected Stories of O'Henry
Crazy English - Richard Lederer (non-fiction)
The Dead Zone - Stephen King
Zeno's Paradox - Joseph Mazur (non-fiction)
13 Things That Don't Make Sense - Michael Brooks (non-fiction)
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (hardcover)
Julius Caesar - Shakespeare (paperback)
A Lenten Hobo Honeymoon - devotional book
Psalms for a Womans Life - Jill Briscoe - devotional book
Halloween Party - Agatha Christie
The Crucible - Arthur Miller
Catch Me A Rainbow Too - Lester Bach OFM Cap. - Franciscan formation
Pick More Daisies - Lester Bach OFM Cap - Franciscan formation
Unplug The Christmas Machine - Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli (non-fiction)
The Daily Devotional Bible - KJV - Read the bible in one year
KJV Holy Bible
A Painted House - John Grisham
Simplicity - Richard Rohr - non-fiction - St. Francis's ancient call to the simple life
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
The Widows Club - Dorothy Cannell
The Complete Poems and Plays of 1909 -1950 - TS Eliot
Classic Library - The Water Babies-Charles Kingsley/Peter Ban J M Barrie
The Mother Tongue, English and How it Got That Way - Bill Bryson (non-fiction)
The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx
At Knits End - meditatinos for women who knit too much - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Rogets 21st Century Thesaurus
The New York Public Library Desk Reference Third Edition - hard cover
Webster Dictionary - pocket size
Bible Answers for Women - devotional?
Prayers for our Armed Forces - small pocket prayer book
The Poetry of Robert Frost
No Nonsense Knowledge Latin Made Simple - Doug Julius - A complete introductory course in classical Latin.
The Handy Science Answer Book - compiled by the Science and Technology Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

If you have any questions about a book, or would like one or more of them, please let me know. I am sure you can find most on Amazon if you wish to see a review.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Busy Week and a Joyful Easter Celebration

It has been a very busy week! Palm Sunday afternoon we went to grandson Patrick's birthday party to celebrate his 2nd birthday. Patrick is a huge Elmo fan so he had an Elmo cake and Elmo cupcakes, he really, really liked the red icing. Here is a picture of Pat the day he was born

The beginning of the week was quite and uneventful, I had two shirts to sew for Patrick and Henry for them to wear for Easter, and a skirt I needed to finish for myself.  I planned to have the sewing projects done by the end of the week but this did not work out.  On Friday I had my grandsons over, we did grocery shopping in the morning along with a few other errands and then we went to Good Friday Mass at Most Precious Blood Church, where my my good friend Cyndi attends, she helped keep the boys corralled! We attended PB many years ago and our children all attended the parish school so it is always nice to visit and see people from the past.  Later in the afternoon the boys went home and I decided that I would spend the evening sewing.  So much for my plans.  I had just started to put together the baby quilt for soon to arrive grandson Charlie, I was pinning the top onto the batting and backing, when my phone rang.  Daughter Amber called to say that they had a flat tire and were waiting for the roadside assistance to come assist them but her husband Brad needed to go to the ER.  We left immediately to go help, I took Brad to the ER, it turned out he had a kidney stone and it was obvious that he was in extreme pain. Dave stayed with Amber and the boys, she had to stay with the vehicle because she had to sign for the roadside assistance. Dave wanted to change the tire but there was no jack to be found.  Thankfully roadside assistance finally turned up, changed the tire, we took the boys home and Amber headed to the ER to be with her husband. Needless to say no sewing was done Friday evening. I am glad to report that Brad is feeling much better.

On Saturday I had the day to myself, thankfully, because I had a ton of sewing to do and food preparation for Easter Sunday.  First I put the ham for Easter dinner into the roaster so it could cook then I finished putting together Charlies quilt, it is now ready for hand quilting. Then I sewed together Patrick's shirt except for putting on the buttons, then did Henry's shirt except for putting on the buttons, it was now one in the afternoon so I took a break from sewing. During my "break" I made a pineapple upside down cake, while it baked I made a lemon icebox pie, and iced four dozen sugar cookies, then cleaned the kitchen and went back to my sewing machine to finish a skirt for myself.  By four all the sewing was done except for buttons, all the holiday baking/roasting was done, the kitchen was clean and I had brought the dry laundry back in from the wash line.  I made a large mug of tea and started sewing on buttons, I had four on each shirt and nine on my skirt and the waist band needed hand stitching. Finally I was done, I wrapped the boys Easter gift, their newly made shirts, a pair of shorts, and a new spring jacket, and then got ready for church.
Most years we go to the Easter Vigil Mass, this is a beautiful mass and one I really enjoy as it is a time when we welcome new people into the Catholic Church with the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and first communion.  This year at Easter Vigil I celebrated my 19th year as a Catholic!  Our church Easter Vigil started at 8:30 pm, it started outside with the fire to burn the oils from last year and to light the Paschal candle, we then processed with lighted candles around the outside of the church and then headed inside. There is so much in the Easter Vigil, we move from darkness to light, we smell incense, we renew our baptismal vows, we listen to many beautiful readings, we truly celebrate the wondrous miracle of Easter! This year our parish had two men come into the Catholic Church, the younger one was easily in his fifties, he received baptism, confirmation and first communion, the other man was in his seventies and he received confirmation and first communion, it was beautiful to be able to participate.  Mass was over at 11 pm and we headed home.  

Easter Sunday I didn't have too much to do, Dave and Emily helped get everything done and by one everyone had arrived for dinner.  This year I had ham, because that is what my family likes, and I decided to do a leg of lamb.  I had never cooked lamb before and was a little nervous about how it would turn out, see picture below of the herbed leg of lamb just before it went in the oven.  I did not need to worry as the lamb cooked up beautifully, it was tender and delicious, my parents, sister and I all enjoyed it very much. Later today I am going to my Mom's house and she is going to teach me how to make Pan Haggerty, a stew made with left over lamb, this recipe was handed down from my Dad's grandmother! 

We enjoyed a great dinner, ate too much dessert and generally had a good time on Easter Sunday.  It was a bright, sunshiny day, but very windy.  After dinner several went outside to fly kites, grandsons Henry and Patrick are really impressed with kites.

After kite flying everyone headed out front to play Corn Hole.  Corn Hole is a simple, fun game, Dave and Matt built two sets a few weeks ago and I made the toss bags earlier in the week, we found the building directions on line.

All in all it was a hectic, busy Holy Week, and a busy weekend, but a wonderful week culminating in the celebration of our risen Lord. Happy Easter!

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Journey

Last month I wrote about leaving a group I had belonged to for many years,, it was not an easy decision, but it was one that had to be prayerfully made and I have peace in my heart because it was the right decision for me.
Throughout Lent I have been on a journey, I left my Secular Franciscan Fraternity, although I am still a fully professed Secular Franciscan, and I asked the Lord to show me the way.
About a month ago my good friend Cyndi, also an SFO, told me about a group called the Confraternity of Penitents, or CFP, she said that a circle met in Fort Wayne and thought that I might like to visit the website to find out more.  I visited the website, and began to read, and I have not stopped.  The CFP follow the Rule of 1221;  a rule of living written specifically for the laity in the year 1221 by Cardinal Hugolino de Conti de Segni at the request of St. Francis.  The Rule of 1221 is followed by the CFP, there is a constitution written to adapt the Rule to modern day living, but for the most part the Rule is followed as written. The best place to fully investigate the Rule and Constitution and get answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ'), is to visit the website,
The process of formation with CFP is at a minimum four years, and it is a very thorough formation, initially incorporating disciplines in prayer life, and slowly, slowly brings about lifestyle changes to simplify life, remove obstacles between oneself and God, and slowly moves you to a total surrender to God.A week ago Cyndi and I were able to attend a local CFP Circle, we met some lovely people who too feel called to live a simpler life deepening their faith. I purchased The Handbook of the Confraternity of Penitents,
an excellent resource and an encouraging book that fully covers the entire process of discernment, inquiry, formation  initially a postulant and then as a novice.  Formation never really ends as it is a lifelong journey. The CFP are simply regular people, singles, husbands, wives, retired, working, mothers, fathers, grand-parents, who feel called to live a life of penance in their desire to surrender all to God.  The local CFP is very blessed to be able to meet at Our Lady of Angels Oratory in Fort Wayne, home to the Franciscan Brothers Minor, and soon to be home of the Cloistered Franciscan Sisters Minor. You can check out more about Our Lady of Angels Oratory at their website, . The Brothers and Sisters also follow the Rule of 1221, however it is different to the rule written for the laity.
What I really like about the CFP, and have hungered for, is the discipline and structure in following the Rule and applying it to daily living, the foundation of the Rule is prayer, prayer, prayer.  I also like that the CFP in Fort Wayne already participate in two active apostalates, reaching out to neighborhood children to share Christ, and providing prayer and practical aid to the homeless, and they have only been together since last October! I am excited to see where the Lord has led me, I am ready for the journey, and plan to apply to be an inquirer and know that all along the way will be prayer and ongoing discernment at each stage of formation. Blessings,Bean